Alastair Cook dismissed as England one-day captain

No clear contenders to lead cricket team just two months ahead of 50-overs World Cup.
Alastair Cook, centre, has scored just one fifty in ODIs in his past 22 innings. Gareth Copley / Getty Images
Alastair Cook, centre, has scored just one fifty in ODIs in his past 22 innings. Gareth Copley / Getty Images

Alastair Cook will not captain England at next year’s World Cup, media outlets in the United Kingdom have reported.

A powerful combination of wretched results, even worse individual form and Cook’s vociferous and influential chorus of critics appear to have made it increasingly difficult for England’s selectors to stick to their guns.

A meeting in the midlands on Friday, in which they were expected to pick an initial squad of 16 for next month’s tri-series in Australia, to be trimmed by one for the main event, suggests Cook has paid for his poor run of form. Cook, 29, has made just one one-day international 50 in his last 22 innings.

Less than a week ago, England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Paul Downton was still saying he would be “very surprised” if – despite his “miserable” form – Cook was not confirmed as captain on Saturday morning.

Another failure, and defeat, followed to make the margin of England’s series setback in Sri Lanka 5-2.

The selectors deliberated at length in September before naming him as captain in Sri Lanka and, in James Whitaker’s words, a “unique leader” who would unquestionably stay in charge for the World Cup, too.

However, Cook conceded after his latest defeat that he could have “no complaints” if he was moved on.

As for a replacement, Eoin Morgan’s case is championed by the loudest voices moulding public opinion and raising the pressure on national selector Whitaker and his colleagues Peter Moores, Angus Fraser and Mick Newell.

There is an unmissable snag, however, in that the Irishman’s batting form – since a purple patch in Australia last winter – is not discernibly better than Cook’s.

If there are other alternatives, they are not obvious.

Of those guaranteed a World Cup place if fit, Joe Root, 23, is a developing and in-form linchpin at No 4 and surely could do without the extra encumbrance.

Stuart Broad led England, in Cook’s absence, to their last ODI series victory but – along with his fellow frontline seamer James Anderson – is recovering from a knee injury.

In Broad’s case, it required surgery, so it would be a major gamble to appoint him captain.

Ian Bell could, for example, become the square peg England can no longer accommodate as a utility top-four incumbent – and in his place Gary Ballance, surprisingly omitted for Sri Lanka, may be the new marque.

Kevin Pietersen on Friday insisted he would listen to any offer to return, even if his international career looks over.

Pietersen wrote on Twitter that his “phone is on” and, in response to a fellow user asking if he would take a call from the England management, he replied: “Of course!”

It seems certain, though, he will not be included in England’s 16-man squad.

sports@thenational.ae

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Published: December 19, 2014 04:00 AM

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